A Review of Business Not As Usual and Reader Comments


Hugh Aaron's new book doesn't quite have it all. Sure you can find blood, guts, pathos, drama, comedy, tragedy, wisdom, and even sex in its pages, but something's missing. The book is refreshingly unacademic; perhaps that's one reason it's so effective as a tutorial manual for running businesses today.

Aaron's 240 page narrative, an expansion of an article series he wrote for the Manager's Journal column of The Wall Street Journal, is candid and wise, but also cuttingly self-critical. Perhaps that's why he coined the book's subtitle, "The story every CEO in America should tell, but won't."

As he takes readers into the hills, valleys and trenches he occupied for two decades as chief executive of his own company, Aaron makes it clear that whatever wisdom he's gained has been on the job -- often at a very high personal price. Having successfully faced virtually all of the vicissitudes, challenges, frustrations, and satisfactions any business could offer, he writes about it all in a down-to-earth tone. Moreover, Aaron is clearly at ease discussing his past failures. He unabashedly throws the spotlight on management ploys gone awry, bad hiring decisions, and episodes of misjudgement in the marketplace.

"My theme throughout this book is," says Aaron in his preface, "Accept responsibility for what happens; face the truth no matter how brutal it is; and don't expect quick fixes and easy solutions." As the book's chapters unfold, that philosophy is tested again and again -- in thriving times as well as recessionary years.

Throughout it all, the author demonstrates his belief that people are the very heart of the matter -- whether he's talking about the nuts and bolts of creating an incentive plan for salespeople, giving part ownership of the company to employees, or struggling with a recalcitrant business partner. Instinct and intuition are not enough , it seems. Arriving at good decisions requires experimentation in the laboratory of the workplace. For all of his unacademic demeanor, Aaron is a master scientist.
Doug Sprei, Rochester Business Magazine

Comments from Readers

"They [your articles] make me think I would like to have worked for your company..."
John F. McDonough, Staff Director-Employee Publications
New England Telephone

"Your article in The Wall Street Journal was of particular interest to me because it mirrors so much my personal philosophy in the building of Marion Laboratories."
Ewing M. Kauffman, Chairman Emiritus
Marion Merell Dow Inc.

"Business Not As Usual certainly took me back to my days teaching management courses, but, once again, you handled the subject well: less as a dry, instructional treatise and more a personal how-to journal. Your message rang true to me even though what I have dealt with is federal government managers. In many ways the current milieu of downsizing, buyouts, re-engineering, etc. apply almost identically to government as they do to the for-profit world of business. And certainly many of your practical solutions and guidelines are every bit as applicable to managers of any sort."
Alice S. Dashiell,
Business Consultant, Clinton, MD

©2018 Stones Point Press